All of Brendan Brustad’s friends think he is insane for what he is about to do.
“They think I am crazy but a lot more people are worried,” said the 26-year-old Air Force staff sergeant. “All of the crazy stuff I do, I do for the (bombing) memorial.”
On Sunday during the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, Brustad will run the half-marathon in his Air Force uniform, including boots, carrying a 168-pound pack on his back in memory of the 168 lives lost in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.
And that’s not all. Beginning Tuesday, Brustad will begin a quest to break 19 world endurance records by Sunday in memory of the 19 children who perished in the bombing.
A recruiter in Oklahoma City for the Air Force, Brustad loves physical fitness and loves a challenge. But he is pushing himself to the limit for one simple reason.
“I just want to make sure no one is every forgotten,” he said.
A native of New York, Brustad joined the Air Force out of high school because of 9-11. He was assigned to the Altus Air Force Base where in 2007 he ran for the first time in the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon.
The day of the race was Brustad’s first visit to the memorial and the bomb site. The experience overwhelmed him, from the 168 moments of silence at the beginning of the race to the woman who hugged him at the finish line. She thanked Brustad for helping keep her father’s memory alive.
Brustad has been running in memory of the 168 bombing victims ever since.
In 2008, he ran from Altus to Oklahoma City in the week before the marathon, averaging 35 miles today. By the time he finished the marathon, he had ran a total of 168 miles.
The next year, Brustad broke the world record by running the most miles on a treadmill in 168 hours.
“A lot of people don’t know there are 168 hours on a treadmill,” he said.
That world record was later broken so Brustad reclaimed it 2010. Last year, he helped pace a friend in his first Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon.
And Brustad is not done yet. In fact, he wears a band around his wrist with just that reminder.
His tribute to the bombing victims this year will be his most physically challenging task yet. Brustad’s Air Force training has required him to run with weighted packs before, but never more than 100 pounds.
He also wants to set 19 different world endurance records this week that involved running on a treadmill and other exercises with weighted packs.
Brustad’s 2-year-old daughter, Kiersten, is his ultimate inspiration for doing something in memory of the 19 children killed in the bombing.
“These 19 children will have a record in their name,” he said. “I am just hoping I can do the best I can for them.”
No matter how physically exhausting Sunday will be for Brustad, it doesn’t compare to the emotions that overcome him each year during the marathon.
“This takes a lot more out of me emotionally than it does physically,” he said. “It goes back to those 168 seconds of silence. It just ignited something in me to do something for the memorial and for the victims.”